Every ball is broken up into categories for performers to enter in. Make sure that you understand what each category requires in terms of gender, sexuality, body and style. For example, The house of Naphtali lays out a few of its categories like so:
Male (Men’s) or Butch Queen Face- “Masculine” (allows groomed facial hair) vs “Pretty Boy” (smooth and clear complexion). Sometimes “Face”is further divided between “Light and Lovely vs Brown and Lovely vs Dark and Lovely”
Women’s (Female) or Female Queen Face- “Painted” (allows makeup) vs “Unpainted” (no makeup)
Male (Men’s or BQ) Body: “Muscular” (body builders) vs “Model’s” (not as beefy-magazine quality
Additionally, see if there are themes and stylistic choices you need to adhere to. Houses and Festivals will often mention fashion designers (Versace, Gucci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, etc...) to give contestants an idea of the looks they want to see presented. Just in the same way that if you were to see a fashion show, the runway would consists of clothing designs from one designer. To get a better idea, look at the category breakdown for the 2017 Streetstar Festival in Stockholm:
Vogue Old Way: ”House of Jeanne d´Arc”:We have landed in the future of the 14th century and this is the opportunity to join the greatest heroine of France – Jeanne d ́Arc! Polish your shiniest Thierry Mugler armour and bring your sharpest Knight sword. Now is the time to battle – Medieval way.
Vogue New Way: ”House of Bardot & Belmondo”:You got the look of the coolest french Cinema stars of the 20th century Brigitte Bardot and male actor Jean Paul Belmondo. This classic black and white movie with flavor of – Cannes Cocktail parties in the sunny Sixties!
Vogue Femme: ” House of Moulin Rouge”: Welcome to the Belle Époque and the underground cabaret of Pigalle. The seductive courtesans of Moulin Rouge with unlimited pleasure for your Vogue fantasy of Femmes – Satisfaction and Death Drops guaranteed!
Vogue Runway: ”House of Marie Antoinette”: Now you can be the most extravagant Queen of the 18th century! Bring your fanciest crinoline, biggest wigs, your sparkling jewelry and Royal Gold! – Let it all shine on the Runway!
Making an Entrance:
Congrats, you’ve made it to the ball and you’re prepped from head to toe in everything you need to take home the trophy. Make sure that you are present and are constantly exuding your brand. What makes your runway unique is how you present yourself and move throughout the space. How you enter the space and start your runway should proclaim how you intend to do your walk both physically and emotionally. Do you start upright or in position for a duckwalk? What pose is your body in? What are you wearing and how can you use your outfit to create that pose? How will you connect with the judges at the end of the runway? Sometimes you get as little as 30 seconds to showcase your talent so every second counts. Watch this video from the Latex Ball in New York City to the varied ways people make an entrance on the runway:
Stay in the Beat:
Balls will have a DJ present to provide music for the runway. The music tracks are often either remixes of a song or completely original work. The DJ’s are there to aid your movement and feed off the persona you exude. As DJ Divoli Svere stated, “personally, what makes a track ballroom is the vibe it gives to the ballroom culture... I try to keep in mind the essence and feel that a regular person would get if they walked into a ball during a vogue battle or runway battle.” The tracks played often work in counts of four or eight, accented by a cymbal crash or a M.C. vocally saying a “ha”, “ka”, “boom”, the end of a vocal verse or a three-second countdown (“one thousand one, two thousand two, three thousand three and hold that pose for me.).
The DJ and MC are listening to the performer’s body as much as the performer should allow the music to feed their work. Performers can play with tempo, either going the speed of the music, half the speed or double time. They can also use the music accents to their advantage by placing signature moves in those accents. Things suchs a dips, death drops, spins can be especially successful when pair with an accent and not overused. In battles it’s also important to be aware of the other contestants in the space. Having other performers means you can physically throw shade either by copying what they did and doing it better or responding to their movements by dissing them.